13th Sage: Two Do’s & a Don’t

A funny thing happens over time with an RPG that you’ve designed: your opinions can change. As you play it, and as new designers bring fresh perspectives and approaches to the table, you discover some unexpected things that work really well, and some things that…could be better.

With that in mind, here are  two do’s and a don’t for 13th Age that I’ve learned recently—two from playing the game with my home group, and one that surfaced during the design stage for Book of Ages.

Do. . .

. . . use the improvement to the incremental advance rules that we came up with while working on 13th Age Glorantha (page 74), limiting the choice of a new class power or spell to one per level when choosing incremental advances.

The new rule is simpler and avoids a couple thorny corner-cases I’d rather not go into. It’s also fun and dramatically proper to save some of the new-power goodness for when your character levels up.

Don’t . . . .

. . . pay attention to the way that Jonathan and I actually chose our own characters’ backgrounds in our home campaign. Please don’t. I beg you.

We wrote some good advice in Chapter 2 of 13th Age about avoiding overly broad backgrounds that demonstrate your desire to control . . . . well . . . . everything. But in the most recent session of our group’s current Eyes of the Stone Thief campaign, Jonathan’s cleric/spirit-talker and my monk both ended up making skill checks using lesser backgrounds that hadn’t surfaced much before. Our problem was that we hadn’t phrased them as ‘lesser,’ and when we had to say them out loud, side-by-side, we made quite a pair. Jonathan’s spirit-talker’s background is physical agent and my monk’s 2-point background is as a metaphysical artist. Oh dear. That about covers reality, then. Cue hooting and hollering and laughter as we faced our sin together.

Do . . . .

. . . look to Book of Ages for hints on how we’ll be handling races in the future.

I’ve often been a stick-in-the-mud about adding new races. But Paul Fanning has been doing more and more development work on the 13th Age line, and when I talked with him about my plans to cut most of the races out of Gareth’s wonderful book, Paul made a persuasive case for keeping many of the races in. We developed the mechanics together, and I wrote a paragraph on the option of using new ‘races’ as interesting One Unique Things (page 24). Book of Ages is one of my favorite 13th Age creations, mostly thanks to Gareth, of course, but Paul’s help with the new races also makes me happy. There’ll be more such shifts in approach in future books.

3 Responses to “13th Sage: Two Do’s & a Don’t”

  1. Christopher LaHaise says:

    Interesting to read – are you considering doing a ‘2nd Edition’ 13th Age, perhaps? Not in the way that WotC does their new editions, but more in the line of how Chaosium does it? Tighten the mechanics, do a few tweaks, release – and have it be about 90% backwards compatible so nobody has to be scores of new books?

  2. Rob Heinsoo says:

    The boring and entirely accurate answer is that we’re not presently planning a 2nd edition of 13th Age. The more detailed answer that addresses the interesting point you raise is that I far prefer what you call the Chaosium model for a game like 13th Age. Speaking for myself, and I think also for Jonathan, if I was gonna use the WotC model, I’d probably design a different game. –Rob Heinsoo

  3. Christopher LaHaise says:

    Yeah, I really prefer Chaosium’s model over WotC’s model. Thanks for the reply!

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